Sometimes we forget to take out our maps before booking a walking holiday and look at what tracks and trails, mountain or maritime, lie just beyond a border. We often focus on a single destination and see it as just one box of adventures, when there might be many more to enjoy just a train or ferry ride away in another exciting country. Here are our top multi-country walking holidays, some already packaged as such and others that we can join together for you to create a cross-border combo of natural adventures and double the fun.
Austria and Slovenia
It’s only just over four hours by train between Salzburg and Ljubljana, two magnificent cities with walking trails on their doorsteps and, unlike trains in other parts of the world, this mountainous journey only costs around £30. There are various Austrian walking holidays you could combine with Slovenian ones. One of the easiest is spending a week exploring Salzkammergut, Austria’s lake district, just under 50km from Salzburg, followed by our western Slovenia hiking tour, a small group tour starting in Ljubljana. The latter takes you hiking in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Triglav National Park and the iconic Lakes Bled and Bohinj. For a very different adventure, you can swap hiking boots for cycling shoes and ride from Salzburg to Lake Bled on a surprisingly easy trail through valleys and foothills.
The Alpe-Adria Trail
Another Austrian walking holiday that shares its mountain magnificence with Slovenia and Italy is the Alpe-Adria Trail. This long-distance rambling route takes you from the Austrian Alps to the Adriatic Sea with a total length of 750km, but you don’t have to do it all, of course. Although Austria’s highest mountain, Grossglockner (3,797m) in Hohe Tauern National Park, is the starting point, this route is designed with ramblers rather than scramblers in mind. If you want to make it a three-country trek, go for the Alpe-Adria Circuit, an eight day, moderate-level walking holiday starting in Villach in Austria. This follows the ridges of the Carnic Alps in Italy, touches the jewels of the Julian Alps, takes you trekking in Triglav National Park, and then back to Austria.
France and Spain
While summit seekers hone in on walking holidays in the Spanish Pyrenees, which boast six of the country’s ten highest peaks, coastal trekkers can also get their fix in this region on our Pyrenees Coastal Trail holiday, between Cadaqués in Spain to Collioure, over the border in France. Combine mountains with the Med on a seven day walking holiday through seascapes that inspired Matisse and Dalí, traditional fishing villages and ancient sites such as Sant Pere de Rodes monastery, with the most heavenly sea views. To get more of a mountainous hit, and one accessible by train, spend a week taking on the High Pyrenees of Catalonia, a moderate but magnificent collection of trails, and then combine it with the Pyrenees Coastal Trail mentioned above, finishing in France.
Peaks of the Balkans
Peaks of the Balkans is a long-distance hiking trail traversing the Western Balkans on a circuit encompassing heritage highlights (and highlands) of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. Depending on the heights that you want to hit, there are options to ascend Mt. Trekufiri, Hajla, Taljanka and Arapi, all promising the most peaceful panoramas. For moderate-level, self-guided walking where you are on your feet for between five and eight hours every day, with daily ascents of maximum 1,000m, our Peaks of the Balkans Highlights and Peaks of the Balkans Complete holidays are best.
Italy and Croatia
This is a delightfully contrasting combo, walking along the final section of the Alpe-Adria Trail for a week, as mentioned above. Walk between the UNESCO site of Cividale del Friuli in the foothills of the eastern Alps and finish in Trieste, the elegant port city at the head of the Adriatic, and historical hub of the Habsburg Empire. You even get to pop into Slovenia en route, with views of the beautiful Brda region as you go. In Trieste, you can pick up a bus to take you to Buje, on the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia, which takes just under an hour. In Buje, you are transferred to a hotel in this charming hilltop town to start a Trails of Istria walking holiday for another five days.
In peak season, you can also take a ferry from Dubrovnik in Croatia at the end of this walking tour of the coast and islands to Bari in Italy’s Puglia region, for another world of a walking holiday between the ancient sites of Matera and Lecce. Matera is only 80mins by regional train from Bari central station.
Denmark and Sweden
As well as the iconic holiday Cycling around the Øresund Strait, which takes you through both Denmark and Sweden, you could take two separate walking holidays in each country, exploring some of their natural havens in more depth. Starting in Sweden, head to the western Bohuslän Archipelago from Gothenburg, where thousands of islands and idyllic islets are perfect for a week of hiking and adventuring. You can then take the Öresund train from Gothenburg to Copenhagen to enjoy just about any of our Denmark walking tours, as transport is so efficient here. However, one of the most charming, and handiest for combining it with a city break, is around Denmark’s magnificent fairytale castles starting in Klampenborg, just 20mins by train from the capital.
Tour du Mont Blanc
Known as the TMB for short, the Tour du Mont Blanc does not actually conquer the great peak but circumnavigates it instead. One of the world’s most celebrated long-distance walking trails which, although it starts and ends in France, is actually a multinational massif, inviting you into Switzerland and Italy en route. Whether you stay in mountain huts or hotels, camp it or chalet it, the TMB is a natural adventure extraordinaire. One of the most popular shorter routes is the Tour du Mont Blanc Western Section walking between Martigny in Switzerland and Bourg Saint-Maurice in France, covering countless mountain passes, veering through valleys and dipping into glacial lakelands en route.
We hope that some of these cross-border and multi-country walking holidays have given you food for thought. We simply want to show that magnificent walking terrain doesn’t always have to stop just because of a line on a map. Sometimes we think it’s worth peering over the ‘wall’ to see what lies beyond. For more walking holiday inspiration, read our blog: Hiking holidays with some of the best mountain walks and do not hesitate to contact us for more information.